A DEMOLITION crew tore down more than 600 houses and 60 pigsties that were less than three meters from the water’s edge in Barangay Ibo, Lapu-Lapu City.
No resistance met the 250 crew from the City Engineering, Clean and Green, and Material Recovery Facility offices.
Some 3,000 informal settlers are likely to be affected once the demolitions scheduled in five coastal barangays are done. After the shores of Barangay Ibo are cleared, the crew will move to Barangay Pusok next, Mayor Paz Radaza explained.
Notices were sent to those living on the shores of Barangay Pajo, Buaya, and Mactan as well. The fact that the City Attorney’s Office sent notices before the demolition in Ibo was believed to have helped keep the activity orderly.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) commended the Lapu-Lapu City Government for removing illegal structures within the three-meter easement zone in coastal areas.
The City decided on the move after the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) revealed it had found traces of fecal bacteria in the waters of Mactan. Just last April, the National Government began a six-month closure of Boracay Island to tourists, to give the island time to recover from coastal pollution caused by the inappropriate disposal of waste.
Mayor Radaza reminded all barangay captains to keep monitoring the residents, in case some of them try to return and rebuild their houses in the easement zone. Some of the demolished houses had stood on stilts and were already in the water.
“I think the initiative should come from the local government unit,” said DENR 7 Director Gilbert Gonzales. “What we can do in DENR is to provide them with the right information to confirm where the boundaries are, so that they can act appropriately.”
He revealed that before the City decided on the demolition, its officials met with DENR to check on the easement boundaries and work on the notices intended for owners of the illegal structures.
Under the Water Code, the easement zone for a city like Lapu-Lapu is three meters from the edge of waterways, which should be kept free of any structure.
Up to 626 notices of violation have been sent by the EMB so far this year, said Regional Director William Cuñado.
Most of these were for illegal structures in coastal areas, including some beach resorts. (FVQ & HBL of Superbalita)